District to move back into East Hampshire towns

By Jon Walker   |   Senior reporter   |
Sunday 28th March 2021 10:15 am
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Penns Place, East Hampshire District Council's offices

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EAST Hampshire District Council’s offices at Penns Place, Petersfield, could go to make way for a new way of working as a vision for the future of the authority becomes clearer.

East Hampshire District Council was an amalgamation of Alton and Petersfield urban district councils, and came into being in June 1974.

But now current leader of the council, Councillor Richard Millard says the offices may be past their sell by date, and it could be cost-effective to move out of Penns Place and into towns across the district.

Councillor Millard said: “The use of Penns Place was under review, and the pandemic has brought other factors into play.

“It is an old, large, expensive building to run, but the issue is far wider than that.

“Residents expect to have council services delivered in a different way, and officers work in a different way.”

Continuing, he said: “They have been working from home during the pandemic, and that could continue, say three days a week.

“And perhaps we should have offices in the towns they can work in rather than coming to Penns Place.

“If we had an opportunity for offices in towns like Petersfield, Alton, Bordon and Horndean maybe, and we could support them financially, it would increase the council’s reach, accessibility and transparency.”

The Penns Place review, along with other council projects, has taken a back seat because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

But it is hoped that business as usual for the council will resume in the summer, and the review will resurface.

It is just one strand in the councils ‘Shaping our Future’ programme that will see it align more closely with its partner authority, Havant Borough Council.

The programme will cost the council money, Cllr Millard admitted, but no figure has been made public yet.

It sets out how, among other transformations, the councils will share one workforce, and following council approval, all staff will transition to a single employing entity.

There was talk that the ageing Penns Place offices may be replaced by housing, but nothing has been confirmed as of yet.

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